Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Good Old Days

Electing President Obama didn’t create a more tolerant, less racially bigoted society.  However, it did reveal that the issue of racial bigotry goes much deeper than many Americans suspected.  The fact that Obama was elected President was in itself  just one indicator of how attitudes are changing.

The “good old days,”were far from being “good” for African-Americans when I enlisted in the Marine Corps during the Korean War.  During basic training at Parris Island, I witnessed a drill instructor with a bayonet chasing a naked African-American recruit, who was endowed with a large penis, from the shower room into the squad bay.  The sergeant was  threatening to castrate the terrified recruit.  That same person referred to as the “Yankee.” 

At Camp Lejeune, I was assigned to escort an African-American Marine, who had been in our company, from the hospital psychiatric ward to the bus station to make sure that he got onto a bus.

Off base in North Carolina, I didn’t expect to see water fountains and rest rooms labelled “For Whites Only.”

On a bus trip north, we stopped to pick up more passengers in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  A middle aged African-American woman, who looked like she had a hard day at work boarded the over crowded bus and  stood next to me.  I offered her my seat, which was about 4 rows from the front of the bus.  At first she didn’t accept the offer, but I insisted and she sat down.  I got off the bus in Washington D.C. to stretch my legs.  Two African-American men, who were sitting in the last row across the back of the bus approached, and asked if I played football for the Washington Red Skins.  They also informed me that the woman, who I gave my seat to could have been kicked off the bus, because it was against the law for blacks to sit in the front of the bus.  The incident occurred, about a year before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat near the front of a bus.

Back in the 50’s there were few, if any African-American  judges, large business owners, mayors, or members of Congress.  Racism and inequality persists, but regardless of a persons nationality, gender, race, faith; whether rich or poor, gay or straight, today is much better than the so called “good old days.”


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